Miracle. All of it.


If there is one god who shaped this ribbon of coast and mountains, who created and nurtures the community of living things that covers it, this god is Rain. About 215 days each year have measurable rain or snow. Yearly precipitation on the island totals nearly a hundred increase – eight feet – and perhaps half again that much on the high slopes. A single inch of rain disbursed over a square mile equals 17.4 million gallons of water. This means about 1.7 billion gallons falls each year on every square mile of the island. The upthrown land is wrapped almost constantly in clouds, and the stead wash of rain has shaped it with veins of coalescing water. Thousands of streams and rivers shed their burden into the Pacific, where it convenes as a mass of freshened current that flows along this entire coast. The rich forest exists here at the behest of rain, as do the muskegs and estuary meadows, and the whole array of rain-loving animals, from timber and slugs and click beetles to bears and bald eagles. I crawl outside the tent to feel the storm once more and take in this moment of its life. Standing in near-absolute darkness, I breathe the wind and try to perceive the power of the moment, to let the storm blow away these snares of thought and leave me the purer freedom of my senses. The storm has given me this day, this island born of rain.

~ Richard Nelson, The Island Within


  • Photo: Adele Oliver (Vancouver Island) via Elinka
  • Related Richard Nelson Posts on Live & Learn: Richard Nelson
  • Inspired by Albert Einstein’s quote: “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”
  • Related Live & Live Posts: Miracle. All of it.

Monday Morning Wake-Up Call: Get up!


The swans on the River Alster in Hamburg, Germany were caught and moved to their ice-free winter quarters on the Eppendorf Muehlenteich millpond. They will remain there until spring. (Bodo Marks/wsj.com)


I just don’t see the connection


Once he heard the gunfire stop, Matthieu made his way back to the restaurant. “I saw a lot of women dead on the ground,” he said, his voice catching on the “f” of “femmes.” “It was mostly women that I saw.” He found one of his friends, a Brazilian studying in Paris, lying in the middle of the street. She had been seated across from him, and was shot in the chest. Matthieu sat on the ground and held her legs, feeling her shallow breathing. She would survive.

People were running through the streets in an eruption of panic, shouting as the police arrived and tried to establish order. The scene couldn’t be secured; Matthieu worried that the shooters might return. Next to him, a man without injuries held his girlfriend’s lifeless body in his arms. Then, without warning, he ran off. The woman was about twenty-five and very beautiful. Matthieu searched for words to describe her perfect, uncanny stillness. […]

Last week’s victims were normal people doing normal Parisian things: eating and drinking together, going out at night to hear a concert or watch a soccer game. After a few days, the rhythm of Parisian life returned, but a new fatalism hung in the air. People seemed resigned to the idea that more attacks would happen, maybe soon. […]

I remembered that when Matthieu and I first met we’d discussed our upbringings, and religion had come up. His family was Catholic, but I couldn’t remember if he was religious. “I’m more agnostic than Catholic, though I come from the Catholic culture,” he said. “In any case, this isn’t really a moment when I’m thinking about religion. When I think about religion, I always think about it in connection with what’s beautiful, what’s good. But never in connection with evil. I just don’t see the connection.”

~ Alexandra Schwartz, Letter from Paris: The Long NightTerrorist attacks and a city changed.

Illustration: Arc De Triomphe by Christoph Riemann in The New Yorker

Not a single feather trembles


Everything around it moves, as if just this one time and one time only, as if the message of Heraclitus has arrived here through some deep current, from the distance of an entire universe, in spite of all the senseless obstacles, because the water moves, it flows, it arrives, and cascades; now and then the silken breeze sways, the mountains quiver in the scourging heat, but this heat itself also moves, trembles, and vibrates in the land, as do the tall scattered grass-islands, the grass, blade by blade, in the riverbed; each individual shallow wave, as it falls, tumbles over the low weirs, and then, every inconceivable fleeting element of this subsiding wave, and all the individual glitterings of light flashing on the surface of this fleeting element, this surface suddenly emerging and just as quickly collapsing, with its drops of light dying down, scintillating, and then reeling in all directions, inexpressible in words; clouds are gathering; the restless, jarring blue sky high above; the sun is concentrated with horrific strength, yet still indescribable, extending onto the entire momentary creation, maddeningly brilliant, blindingly radiant.
There it is, in the middle of the Kamo, the water largely reaching up to its knees, hence the truly quite shallow weir, interspersed with small grassy enclaves, hence truly peculiar, if not the most bizarre river upon the globe, and the bird just stands, without a single movement, its body strained forward, waiting staggeringly long minutes for the day’s quarry, now already ten minutes, then a half-hour passes as well; in this waiting and attentiveness and motionlessness, time is cruelly long, and still it does not move, standing exactly the same, in exactly the same pose, not a single feather trembles, it stands, leaning forward, its beak bent at an acute angle over the mirror of the gurgling water; no one is looking, no one sees it, and if it’s not seen today then it is not seen for all eternity, the inexpressible beauty with which it stands shall remain concealed, the unique enchantment of its regal stillness shall remain unperceived: here with it, in the middle of the Kamo, in this motionlessness, in recognition that it is the one that gives meaning to everything around it, gives meaning to the spinning churning world of movement, to the dry parching heat, the vibrations, every whirling sound, scent, and picture, because it is a completely unique feature of this land, the unyielding artist of this landscape, who in its aesthetic of unparalleled motionlessness, as the fulfillment of unswerving artistic observation, rises once and for all above that to which it gives meaning, rises above it, above the frantic cavalcade of all the surrounding things, and introduces a kind of aimlessness — beautiful as well — above the local meaning permeating everything, as well as above that of its own actual activity, because what is the point of being beautiful, especially when it is just a white bird standing and waiting for something.

~ László Krasznahorkai, “Kamo-Hunter” from Seiobo There Below


Did you feel this too?


After great pain, a formal feeling comes—

The Nerves sit ceremonious, like Tombs—

In the days after Paris, Emily Dickinson’s poem kept ringing through my mind as I tried to figure out what I felt—and, surprisingly, didn’t feel. I did not, as the facts emerged and the story took its full size, feel surprised. Nor did I feel swept by emotion, as I had in the past. The sentimental tweeting of that great moment in “Casablanca” when they stand to sing “La Marseillaise” left me unmoved. I didn’t feel anger, really. I felt grave, as if something huge and terrible had shifted and come closer. Did you feel this too?


I feel certain that in the days after the attack people were thinking: This isn’t going to stop.

~ Peggy Noonan, Uncertain Leadership in Perilous Times

Image: The Economist

Saturday Morning



All the candles
burning down to the metal,

the radiator singing its dumb water song.


The dust
in my lungs.
Knock it
out of me.


did it get so cold?

~ Marty McConnell, Elegy

Credits: Poem – VerseDaily. Photo: Exercice de Style

Riding Metro North. With the Blues.


I run out the door at 5:30 a.m. to catch the 5:40 Express to Grand Central.
55° F. Breezy. A spring day in November.
Hit me Big Man, hit me with more of this.

There, out of the corner of my right eye, it slithers. A brown snake.  A full cup of spilled coffee tipped by the jarring of steel on rough track.  It’s three feet away and closing in.  Roots of the tree spread.

I point.  He catches my eye. He shifts to the empty seat on his left as the snake veers to his right.  He tips his hat, grateful.

We both watch the flow, creeping. Two men.  A suit on one side with his Tumi bag, Shinola Watch and e-Reader in hand.  A construction worker on the other side, with his well-worn blue jeans, a green florescent vest, steel toe boots, leather supple and well oiled. A lunch bag is tucked on top of his backpack.

He turns to his NY Post.

I turn to my e-Reader.

And my morning reader starts to pop.

Michael Wade: “I would be impressed by a college that gives credits for blue collar labor.”

NY TimesHalf of New Yorkers Say They Are Barely or Not Getting By, Poll Shows

Steve Layman: You probably don’t deserve what you have. So keep moving and earn it” via Austin Kleon.

The train pulls into Grand Central. And we pour out. I approach the main terminal.

“Awwww Puppy.”  I see an older dog ahead at the entrance.  A golden lab mix on a leash wearing a blue vest.  You look like a “Sadie.” [Read more…]

Then you attain those things and realize you still couldn’t be more empty. I didn’t know where to put myself.


The most notice thing about Angelina Jolie Pitt —apart from her almost preternatural physical presence—is that nearly everywhere she goes she turns up more or less unattended (unless, of course, you count husband Brad Pitt and their brood of six). Arriving for an interview at a West Hollywood hotel suite to promote By the Seaher upcoming movie with Pitt, she’s trailed only by a lone bodyguard—she doesn’t employ a manager or even a publicist. […]

According to King, Jolie Pitt’s attention to detail extends well beyond wardrobe. When she first approached him about In the Land of Blood and Honey, she was “extraordinarily well prepared,” he says. “She turned up in my office with the location, photos, storyboards, casting information…He also came to admire her “hands-on” approach. “Whether it’s interviews, photo shoots or directing films, she gets involved herself,” he says. “Angie does not send people into meetings. There’s no manager or agent, no PR. When I first met her I couldn’t believe how accessible she was.” […]

In her teens, Jolie Pitt suffered from depression, which she attributes in part to her “unhealthy” hometown. “I grew up in L.A., where focus is very inward. I didn’t know why I was so destructive and miserable. I didn’t appreciate or understand my life.” Her unhappiness was further compounded by guilt. “I was raised in a place where if you have fame and money and you’re decent-looking and have the ability to work in this industry, you have everything in the world. Then you attain those things and realize you still couldn’t be more empty. I didn’t know where to put myself.” […]

Pitt says he doubts his wife would call her choice to go public with her decisions brave, noting that “she’s never been a person who hides. She’s utterly forthcoming and sincere about who she is.” He adds that once she’s made up her mind, she’s always been unwavering about her choices. “I’ll tell you this about her surgeries: Once the decision was made, she was on the operating table two weeks later.”

If she was confident in her decision, she had painful reasons to be. “You have to understand that this is a woman who never knew she’d make it to 40,” Pitt says. “This is a woman who had watched her mother, aunt and grandmother become sick and eventually succumb, all at an early age. Her drive, her absolute value in herself, is defined by the impact she can have during her time here—for her kids and for the underprivileged and those suffering injustices.” […]

~ Julia Reed, The Examined Life of Angelina Jolie Pitt

Related Angelina Jolie Post: It is polarizing, and it is peaceful.

T.G.I.F.: It’s been a long week





“Photographer Olive Santaoloria captures crystal clear underwater portraits. With a limited color range, Santaoloria creates imagery that features subjects frozen in various movements and poses. From a businessman in a suit to a nude woman, the photographs look as if they’re stuck in time. In her own words, the photographer describes the subjects in her work as follows: “From portraits to landscapes, the man of a thousand faces, the woman of a thousand reflections…”

See other underwater portraits here: Olive Santaoloria (via ignorant)

Le mouvement de l’air

“Mobile, organic, ephemeral, random, sensory: searching for a live digital world. The Adrien M / Claire B Company has been acting in the fields of the digital arts and performing arts since 2004. They create many forms of art, from stage performances to exhibitions combining real and virtual worlds with IT tools that were developed and customised specifically for them. They place the human body at the heart of technological and artistic challenges and adapt today’s technological tools to create a timeless poetry through a visual language based on playing and enjoyment, which breeds imagination. The projects are carried out by Adrien Mondot and Claire Bardainne. The company operates as a research and creativity workshop based out of Presqu’île in Lyon, France.